Wednesday, Jan 15 12:00pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Tim Cindric: Indianapolis GP start a possibility for Scott McLaughlin

Scott McLaughlin’s opportunity to test an IndyCar with Team Penske may be more than just a gift from The Captain according to Tim Cindric.


Speaking with after McLaughlin’s maiden outing at Sebring International Raceway, the Team Penske President said another outing with an eye on a race start isn’t out of the question.


The team are reportedly looked to field McLaughlin in another test, this time at Circuit of the Americas.


The Spring Training test is the only official pre-season IndyCar Series test. Typically the two-day test sees the full regular season field on track with a handful of prospective drivers in the mix.


Team Penske has currently got reigning champion Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power locked in for the season. However, Cindric said a fourth entry at some point during the year is “one of the possibilities,” particularly at the Indianapolis Grand Prix, which utilises the Road Course. 


For McLaughlin to test at Circuit of the Americas, Cindric said Team Penske needs to make a commitment to IndyCar Series organisers that they’ll run the Kiwi at some point this season.


“We haven’t finalized whether we’re going to be able to run Scott at COTA or not, so we’re still working on that,” Cindric told “IndyCar won’t let just anyone show up to an open test without a commitment to running somewhere else. 


“So that depends on if we can put something together in time for that test or whether there’ll be something else, another opportunity. We’re still trying to figure that out, but the first step was to go to Sebring. 


“We’ve checked Scott’s schedule to see if the COTA open test is a possibility or not, and yes it is from that standpoint, but from the final decision standpoint, we still need to figure out that part of it. It comes with the caveat of knowing that we’re going to enter him in a race at some point.”


A fourth entry by Team Penske would likely see personnel from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar operation come across to support the effort. 


It wouldn’t be the first time the team has run a fourth car at Indianapolis. In 2017 they ran Juan Pablo Montoya and in ‘18 and ‘19 they fielded Helio Castroneves. 


Speaking of the possibility of McLaughlin making a move to IndyCar, Cindric said the move would be easier than going to NASCAR as has long been speculated. 


“When we looked at the IndyCar schedule and the Supercars schedule, and the time it takes to become a top-tier driver in IndyCar compared with NASCAR, open-wheel became maybe more appealing. That was interesting for all of us because there are more possibilities for doing a parallel program.


“The feeling is that a top driver should be able to get on top of IndyCar sooner because of the data that’s available, so long as they have good teammates to draw from. 


“Dario [Franchitti] and others agreed that someone of Scott’s calibre would be better off going straight into IndyCar rather than looking at lower-tier open-wheel formulas.


“And as you know, a lot of drivers have tried hopping into NASCAR and being successful and had some struggles. And Dario is one of those guys so it was good to have that conversation to check we were approaching it the best way we possibly could.


“But of course Scott’s got to also think about whether he wants to change careers. That doesn’t mean there’s necessarily an opportunity but if there’s an opportunity to try this or that without being fully committed, that’s a lot better than just jumping off the cliff.”